North Catasauqua takes action
Second Street residents attending the April 25 North Catasauqua Borough Council meeting indicated they were satisfied with the council’s decision regarding a collapsing house on their street.
A hole opened up under one of the attached homes at 1020 and 1022 Second St. three years ago, and neighbors have waited in vain for the homeowner to either make repairs or demolish the building.
After a severe structural issue occurred April 17, the borough engineer inspected the structure and declared it is not an immediate danger to the public. The owner was alerted and an emergency petition was filed with the court, according to a report presented at the meeting by borough Solicitor Steven Goudsouzian.
Resident Judy Morgan was among the Second Street neighbors who attended the meeting.
“It has been an eyesore for three years,” she said. “He has not shown his face until the incident on Monday night. You can give him 30 days; he’ll take 60. You can give him 60; he’ll take another three years. It needs to be taken care of. I don’t care if it’s torn down or otherwise. We pay our taxes. Our voices need to be heard.”
“I am embarrassed to tell people where I live,” Gail Wagner said. “I don’t want to feel like that.”
Under the borough code, if there’s imminent danger, the borough can take a series of steps, including repairs or demolition, he said.
The court order gave the owner until April 24 to submit a plan to remediate the situation. The owner’s engineer was on the property April 21.
“To date, I have not received a plan, so we have the ability, as of now, to move forward,” he said.
If there is no plan or if it is not good enough, the borough can take steps. The problem is whatever the borough does would be at its own expense, and then an attempt to get reimbursement from the owner would ensue.
Also, “there may or may not be a lawsuit afterwards,” Goudsouzian added.
Councilman Joe Keglovits commented that the week allowed by the court for the owner’s engineer to draft and present a plan might not be enough time.
Council President said a rough estimate of $40,000 for demolition has already been obtained.
A borough engineer’s report after an April 17 inspection states “the structure is not in immediate danger of collapsing and does not need to be immediately razed.”
Keglovits recommended demanding a viable remediation plan within 15 days, with work starting within 30 days.
The council approved a motion by Keglovits for a May 12 plan deadline and May 25 deadline for beginning work, with the caveat that if, at any time, further collapse occurs, the borough will demolish the building. The plan, to include an end date for completion, must be acceptable to the borough and its representatives.
If the time frame is not complied with, the borough will take its own action, including, perhaps, demolition.
The vote was 6-0, with Councilwoman Cherie Gebhart absent.
A second motion was more emphatic, stating if a viable plan is not received by 4 p.m. May 12, demolition will be scheduled. That vote also was unanimous.
Treasurer Annette Englert noted the funds for demolition would have to come from the borough’s special projects fund.
At the conclusion of the meeting, Second Street residents in attendance seemed to be in agreement that the borough’s actions are appropriate.
“I am satisfied,” Morgan said. “I think they have taken appropriate steps.”